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Members of Voices for Public Transit know public transportation benefits everyone. We’re keeping it moving.

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Members of Voices for Public Transit know public transportation benefits everyone. We’re keeping it moving.

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Transit-Oriented Development Strengthens Communities



Public transportation not only provides essential mobility to millions of Americans, but it also anchors communities and drives economic development.

“Transit-oriented development” (TOD) refers to the way public transportation helps drive new investment in residential and commercial development along transit lines because ready access to public transportation helps attract new residents and businesses alike. TOD neighborhoods include a mixture of residences, stores, offices, and services, all located within a half-mile of public transit, and they are helping transform communities—and lives—throughout the nation.

Households in transit-oriented neighborhoods spend, on average, 15 percent of their income on transportation, compared to 28 percent in neighborhoods without public transit access. In addition to lowering transportation costs, transit-oriented development:

  • Reduces strain on roads and highways—and helps limit traffic congestion
  • Promotes public health by supporting walking, cycling, and community interaction
  • Helps businesses attract both customers and employees
  • Revitalizes neighborhoods and supports housing affordability
  • Reduces air pollution and limits sprawl



Federal Transit Funding Supports TOD

The 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act includes key provisions to support transit-oriented development. The FAST Act reauthorized and expanded the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) to include qualifying transit-oriented development projects. The FAST Act also provides continued funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s transit-oriented planning grant program.

While the FTA has awarded many transit-oriented planning grants to large cities, smaller communities have also benefited:

  • Greater Boise, Idaho—The Boise region’s Valley Regional Transit (VRT) is planning to launch a bus rapid transit (BRT) service in the region, with a major line running from downtown Boise out to smaller communities to the west. A federally funded transit-oriented development grant is helping VRT and regional partners develop plans for four TOD sites.
  • Lake County, Indiana—The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) received federal funding to help incorporate transit-oriented development best practices into the development of a new rail line. The plan will support multi-modal transportation, encourage private-sector investment, and promote increased residential density.
  • Ogden and Provo-Orem, Utah—These cities that bookend Utah’s main regional commuter rail line received federal transit-oriented development planning grants to foster growth and community prosperity anchored by BRT services. The grants will foster housing affordability and encourage walking and cycling.


Some Americans—and even some lawmakers—mistakenly think federal transit funding only benefits large metropolitan areas. Simply not true. The FAST Act is reaching communities of all sizes—and public transit is helping drive smart investment and development in suburbs, small towns, and rural areas alike.

Raising awareness about the “hidden” benefits of public transportation, like transit-oriented development, will be key as elected officials continue to debate the budget and consider infrastructure legislation. Public transit does much more than provide mobility, it transforms communities of all sizes.